Monday, November 15, 2010

New at Rivals: Bulldogs Don't Have Thumbs

My Monday-morning column for the Georgia game has been posted at Rivals' Here's a preview:

Amidst all the griping about the 2010 Auburn defense, observers have tended to miss an important distinction: the Tigers have consistently played better in the second half than in the first, a marked difference from the multiple collapses of the 2009 season. The Georgia game marked the third time this year when the Tigers fell behind significantly early but went on to comfortably outscore the opposition in the second half.

Those recoveries have been partly due to sharp defensive adjustments, but they also owe a lot to the old axiom about a good offense being the best defense. The Tiger sr machine doesn't just wear down the opposing defense; it also scares the pants off of opposing play-callers who know they're going to have to score on virtually every possession just to keep up.

That relentless pressure gives a significant second-half advantage to Ted Roof and his troops on the AU defense. Since his first year in the league a decade ago, Mark Richt has always preferred to chuck-and-duck as opposed to establishing a running game, and his old proclivities, plus the knowledge that Auburn and Newton were most likely going to score every time they had the football, caught up with Richt again this week.

Even after pulling to a tie midway through the third quarter, Richt didn't see any choice other than to keep passing (after all, everybody knows Auburn can't cover, right?), and that mix of tendency and desperation killed any chance of a Georgia comeback. Auburn's much-maligned defense knew what was coming, whipped Georgia up front, and shut out the Bulldogs entirely in the final period.
The rest is on the subscription side, but Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

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